As the curtains rolled down on the World Plenary at Pisac early 2016, a team of 7 Friends from Kenya in company of 7 Bolivian Friends, embarked on 20 long hour road trip to La Paz, Bolivia for a mission and worship exchange program upon request by the Local Friends. From the reports the team says, ‘it was an exciting and frustrating venture in equal measure’. Exciting because they were journeying to share with Friends from different background, culture and frustrating for the long wait at the Peru/Bolivia boarder to acquire visa upon entry, proved to be draining, tedious exercise
The youngest of the group in early 20’s was impressed by the mission, being a first experience far from home and the opportunity to lead in singing and welcoming the preacher was wow! The eldest of the team in 6o’s points out we serve the same Maker, though the approach may be different, the wave of transformation comes sweeps our hearts in equal measure. The Bolivian Friends accompanying them could not hide their excitement as well despite the long-stay and complicated process of acquiring visas for their guests.
Upon arrival at La Paz, the seventh wonder and most beautiful city in the world Local Friends were warmly and hearty welcoming. The smiles and the hugs faded the memories of the border crossing escapades. The beautiful smile of Friend Pamela who took in the ladies still resonates with them and they still express their deepest gratitude for the hospitality and the embrace. It’s good to be home, it’s good to feel at home and at ease when visiting but this was our home and the memories hang on dearly.
In in a week-long visit, the first main exercise was touring the magnificent La Paz city, the parks and the unique and interesting transport system inter-connecting the city through a telegraphic network commonly referred to as telefrico. Very effective it is and lessened traffic and swift it is.
The first Fellowship with Local Friends was at the Central Yearly Meeting of the Iglesia Evangelica headquarters. The one hour long fellowship was transformational with deep reflections led by Kenyan Friends through worship singing and message sharing. Tears of joy were so evident during this first interactive session with Bolivian Friends.
At the Union Church, where Friends were on a retreat at a near park; the wonderful time with the group was so uplifting with sharing around different worship experiences between the two countries. Friends shared testimonies were spirit lifting and a true definition of what it is to be a Quaker and passionate about it. The ageless bonding and friendship was a moving testimony where both the young and the elderly joined in energetic team building activities. This can be a best practice to be emulated by other Friends as barrier breaker between the young and the old in the church.
At the New Jerusalem church-liken to the New Jerusalem, heaven we all desire to see and journeying to; a Kenyan Friend shared an uplifting message and we experienced the Spirit on the Move in a convicting manner. Men and women were lifted and this is an experience Friends will live to cherish as having encountered the beauty of God on a mission. During the youth worship session, the message from Pisac on Living the Transformation was imported to this magnificent and blessed group with beautiful singing.
A visit to the Coroico Church in the Southern suburbs founded by a missionary Eryat PABLO and wife in 1997 was captivating, the thought of missionaries being selfless and not individualistic of where to start a mission station. The church was undergoing reconstruction and the thought of the place being insecure still lingers with Kenyan Friends why a missionary never thought of security but just planted the church? The Friends hold onto the thought, travel ministry, mission outreaches and evangelism is relevant in the Quaker world and will propel the church in numerical rise.
At the Obrehajas Church during an evening for worship Friends shared testimonies of the awesomeness of the Creator who made it possible for the Friends from Kenya to be in their midst. Such a blessing it was, the presence of God was in manifest; God is the same everywhere, we experience God in the same way, no one has monopoly of God.
The highlight for the Kenyan Friends was visits and praying with Local Friends families in the city and outskirts. This is a sign that we are united as a family, our differences was not a hindrance but the joy of fellowship despite the skin colour, body posture, accent, language difference etc. The FWCC dream and vision of crossing cultures was real, connecting Friends was indeed such an experience and for few moments we believe God purposed we be an inspiration to change lives.
With gratitude to God for the privilege, travel grace. FWCC World Office, Africa Section, the International Planning Team for the arrangements; Bolivian Friends, hosts, guides, interpreters for the warmth. Friends Timoteo, Nathaniel, Micaela, Pamela and Esther peace be upon you!!. Missionaries Hal and Nancy Thomas blessings